ANKARA – 23 March 2015 – Hurriyet – Turkey’s government cannot take further steps in the peace process unless the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) lays down its arms and takes concrete steps to foster peace, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said. “Peace is not possible under the shadow of arms … We cannot move forward in an environment in which promises are violated repeatedly unless we see concrete steps,” Erdoğan said March 23 during his now-weekly meeting with local community representatives in his latest outburst against recent developments in the peace process.
The president recalled the message given during last year’s Nevruz for an unarmed struggle, criticizing the Kurdish movement for failing to do so over the past year. “It’s not possible to believe these [promises] unless we see the practice. We have to see the practice first,” he said, noting that there were 2.5 months until elections and that the people of the country should not go to the ballot box under threats from the PKK.
Erdoğan also revised his rhetoric on Kurdish issue, saying his remarks of dismissing Kurdish problem were intentionally misinterpreted. “There is no longer a Kurdish problem in Turkey. My Kurdish brothers and sisters have problems,” he said, stressing that they were dealing with the problems of Turkish citizens that have different ethnic backgrounds.
As the state “has put an end to policies of denial and made efforts for a solution with the recognition of problems, the concept of the Kurdish problem has expired,” the president said.“In an environment where those problems are recognized, it’s wrong to say ‘Kurdish problem,’” he stated, stressing that there are also Circassians, Laz, Georgian and other people in Turkey. “A nation is a concept that subsumes many ethnic elements.”Turks and Kurds are brothers and have stood together at difficult times throughout history, he said. “Those who question the history of Kurds solely looking at the last 30-40 years will make a mistake,” he said. “Marginal, atheist and nonbelieving movements that are disconnected to the values of these lands cannot recast our relations,” Erdoğan said. Erdoğan also slammed Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş. “Who called on people for protests on Oct. 6-8? … Now they unblushingly say that the president is against a solution,” he said, referring to the Kobane protests of October 2014 in which close to 50 people were killed, most at the hands of security services or far-right elements, in protests against the government’s supposed support for jihadists against the People’s Defense Forces (YPG) and Women’s Defense Forces (YPJ) in Kobane.